7 Tips for “Doing” Vivid

by Jessica Matthews

Vivid sydney


Vivid has grown so much in the last few years and it is a beautiful festival to partake in. This year you will be able to enjoy and experience Vivid Sydney for 23 days and nights from 26 May to 17 June in various locations across Sydney. You can find locations at Chatswood, Sydney Opera House, The Rocks, Martin Place, Darling Harbour, Taronga Zoo, The Royal Botanic Garden on Sydney Harbour, and for the first time, Barangaroo and Kings Cross. For details of these locations check out Vivid’s website here.

So how can it be a kid-friendly event with all the crowds? At the best of times crowds + children is a stressful combination but add the fact that it will be dark, there may be water nearby depending on your location and the lights that will probably hype the kids up… it’s full on! But whilst those factors might be a bit stressful, there are things to do to make it a fun and enjoyable event. Here are my top 7 tips for enjoying Vivid with your family:

1. When to go

I suggest going during the first week on a weekday, ideally Monday – Wednesday. The festival’s busiest nights are expected to be each Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights and every night of the June long weekend.

2. What time to go

With a young family it’s best to go around 5.30pm – in most locations the lights will turn on at 6pm. This year Chatswood Chase and Taronga Zoo will be turning lights on from 5.30pm. Chatswood also has a daytime exhibit. We’ve given a full briefing of Chatswood here and Taronga Zoo here.

3. How to get there

If possible, take public transport as parking is likely to be full on. We are lucky in the Ryde area as we have access to trains, buses and ferries (check the time of the last one home!). The added bonus of the ferry, is taking in the breathtaking views of a lit up Circular Quay. When we have driven to the CBD, we parked near Town Hall and walked down with the stroller. For us this worked well as we came straight from work and extended CBD road closures made for a quick walk. 

4. Where to go

There are various locations as mentioned above – I personally find Circular Quay is very compact with the displays and walkways but Darling Harbour was a little more spacious. For those going for the first time, Chatswood can be a good idea as you can easily eat with a family thanks to some yummy and affordable restaurants. Parking is more achievable thanks to the shopping centres too.

Another option is Taronga Zoo – details for their offering and costs can be found here. Finally, you could consider a cruise – there are a number of family-friendly options. It is great to go multiple times to see various locations if you can, as they are all so unique and will leave you in awe.

5. Feeding the tribe

Obviously the fancy-restaurant-with-a-view thing won’t be happening for at least a few more years, so in the interim your best bet is to either eat before you come and then bring snacks OR attempt to squeeze in somewhere for a quick bite. Chatswood food courts could be your easiest option of all! When we visited the CBD we did decide to line up and splurge on an ice cream at Circular Quay. The line was long but worth it for the treat. 🙂 

6. Labelling your kids

Just in case, as a precaution, label your kids with your name and number so that if in the unlikely event you get separated you can be contacted. You can purchase these reusable wristbands that are water resistant (in case it rains) and clip on and off (needs 2 hands so kids can’t take off alone) and therefore can be reused. They are $5 each and come in girl and boy prints. They can be posted for $2 (which fits up to 6 or so) or picked up locally. To enquire, please email me: loveavadesigns@gmail.com. Wristbands are also available from information booths at Darling Harbour, Customs House and West Circular Quay

7. What if it’s raining?

To be honest, I would definitely still go if it was a light drizzle. Get out the raincoats, boots and umbrellas – the crowds will be less (HOORAY!) and the kids will think it’s a great adventure!


I can’t wait to go to Vivid this year, the displays look amazing and seem to get better every year!